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More than 306 billion. That’s how many emails were expected to be sent and received each day in 2020, according to Statista. With millions of companies switching to remote work and brands sending more emails, the number may well exceed Statista’s prediction this year.
Email marketing is performing better than it has in a long time. There’s been a spike of 200 percent in engagement since March, writes Ray Schultz of MediaPost, a clear sign that people are spending a lot more time in their inboxes.
What are they looking for and how can your business respond? Moreover, how can you anticipate your customers’ needs and expectations? Being quick to adapt is vital. Let’s take a look at four things you should consider changing in the way you use email for marketing.
1. Prune your lists more often
If you used to clean your email lists of bad contacts every quarter, email hygiene involves more initiative right now. Think about the massive loss of jobs across almost all continents and industries. In the U.S., the unemployment rate is 11.1 percent. Although that’s a decline compared to March and April, millions of business-to-business (B2B) email addresses are now invalid.
“We’ve gotten feedback from customers that many of their B2B email addresses are bouncing,” ZeroBounce COO Brian Minick told me. No surprise there. Many businesses have had to reduce their staff or shut down permanently. That’s awful for the people involved, and it also poses a risk to email marketers. “To avoid deliverability issues, we recommend keeping an eye on your bounce rate,” Minick added. “If it’s above the industry benchmark of 2 percent, you know it’s time to validate your contacts again.”
2. Be empathetic and offer practical help
Your message and the way you convey it can make the difference between someone choosing your business or cutting you out of their lives for good. “People can be very sensitive, especially during a crisis. Some of your customers may be facing countless challenges right now,” says InvoiceBerry founder and CEO Uwe Dreissigacker. How is your business there for them?
“You don’t have to mention the pandemic in every email you send,” Dreissigacker elaborates. “Rather, ask yourself: Is this helpful to my audience? How can I show more clearly that I care? Make sure to run your content by your PR department and all the executives/ There may be nuances you fail to catch. More eyeballs looking at your emails means fewer risks.”
Expressing empathy during difficult times is common sense, but words are not enough. Back them up with practical, immediate assistance. Make the crisis easier to bear with offers that help your customers the most. Can’t figure out what that is? Use email to encourage conversations and run a survey if you can. The sooner you get to the bottom of your customers’ problems, the more prompt and relevant your response will be.
3. Be more aware of spam complaints
Here’s a cliché. No matter how good your intentions are, someone is going to be unhappy. It applies to email, too.
It could be that your newsletter or marketing offer came at a bad time. Or perhaps the person feels you shouldn’t be running any promotions during the crisis. By labeling you as spam, these subscribers are telling inbox providers that your content is bothering them.
More than one spam complaint for every 1,000 emails is worrisome. Abuse emails — accounts that belong to frequent complainers — will taint your sender reputation and cause your future campaigns to land in spam or be blocked altogether. You can’t afford that, especially if you’re hardly keeping your business afloat. To secure your spot in the inbox, be more diligent about removing complainers.
Apart from weeding them out from your list, you can also prevent them from getting there in the first place. An email verification API checks every subscriber’s email address in real-time and rejects the bad ones — including abuse emails.
4. Stick to a consistent sending schedule
Speaking of spam complaints, a simple way to keep them under control is by following a consistent sending schedule. Being punctual fosters familiarity, so your subscribers are less likely to feel your messages are spam.
Emily Ryan, email strategist and co-founder of Westfield Creative, confirms, “When you stay consistent, your readers stay engaged. If you send one email and then don't show up for two months, you risk getting unsubscribers the next time you email.”
Nervous about emailing people too often? “Just remember they want and expect to hear from you,” Ryan continues. “Whether you send something once a month or once a week, showing up for your subscribers is so important. One of the biggest things we do for our clients is to help them stay consistent with their email campaigns. After determining a frequency that is in line with their overall marketing goals, we make sure to stick to an email campaign calendar. A simple spreadsheet works. Also, we constantly monitor the need to increase or decrease the consistency if there are too many unsubscribes happening.”
So, create your own calendar, fill it up with content ideas, and stick to it. “Even if it's a short, simple email,” Ryan concludes, “show up for your people.”